Colorado College students have used venture grants to pursue research, attend conferences, and produce creative work since 1970, when CC initiated the program.
Now, thanks to a generous gift from the Keller Family Foundation, even more students can dive into research or a studio project — and get larger grants to fund their work. Student venture grants are used to cover direct expenses including travel, housing, food, and materials. Some research proposals and projects earn academic credit. Fifty-one venture grants have been approved so far for the 2005-06 year. Among other pursuits, they have allowed CC students to:
- Research the flammulated owl — an environmentally sensitive species that can indicate the health of a forest — in the Pike National Forest;
- Participate in the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Southern Writers’ Project;
- Travel to South Africa to study izibongo, a type of oral praise poetry unique to the Xhosa people;
- Purchase components for a membrane electrode assembly for the development of a hydrogen-powered fuel cell.
Out of the Kitchen, Into the Classroom: Venture Grant-Funded Research in Peru
For several generations of indigenous Peruvian women, being a housemaid for a wealthy family in the city seemed like a step up from their agrarian lifestyles. As servants, they had electricity, running water, and a consistent, reliable food supply. But there were problems: working long hours at menial domestic tasks was a virtual prison for many women, while some experienced abuse at the hands of their employers.
The current generation of women and girls in Jach’a Titilka — a small community of farmers and potters on the high plains of southern Peru — is making different choices. These choices caught the attention of Kat Wheeler ’06.
“Many of these women want a different life for their daughters than domestic servitude. While they were working as maids in the cities, the older generation saw that there were other opportunities for women, and they now have higher aspirations for their daughters,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler is a liberal arts and sciences major, specializing in communities in development. Working with and studying indigenous people has always intrigued her, even when she was a young girl on vacations with her parents. Two venture grants allowed her to travel twice to Jach’a Titilka to conduct research for her senior thesis on the shift from domestic labor to education among women and girls there. On her first trip, she spent six weeks in the community, establishing relationships with the women and girls, especially her key informants. During the second trip, she interviewed the women extensively about their experiences, as well as their hopes and aspirations for the younger generation. Now that there is a school near the community, girls are getting educated and going on to semi-professional jobs.
Wheeler is grateful for the opportunity to have lived with and studied the women of Jach’a Titilka, and hopes to continue her research after graduation.